Showing posts with label prayer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prayer. Show all posts

Sunday, July 3, 2022

I Don't Believe In Coincidence

If you have watched the director's cut of the 2004 movie Troy (which I would highly recommend because it's ten times better than the finished product), you know there is a scene near the beginning, shortly after Helen enters the City, in which Hektor and Priam are in the grand room of the palace among statues of the Gods and seats of the Council, discussing whether to send her back to Sparta. Priam eventually begins telling Hektor (his son) about his faith and dedication to the Gods, describing a time when Hektor was a child stricken with Scarlet Fever. The doctor expected Hektor to die before sunrise. But Priam said he went down to Apollo's temple and "prayed until the sun came up." Priam returned that morning to find Hektor fully recovered. 

This scene has always stuck with me because I too know what it's like to be a father praying to Apollon for a sick son. My child was born severely premature, and I don't think there was a day that went by that I didn't pray or think about the Gods when I visited the NICU. Of course, Gryphon's story didn't end when he came home. He's made a tremendous impact on everyone who has known him, and I haven't stopped praying for him. In fact, it happened again just recently on the night of July 1st - 2nd, 2022. On this day, he was not feeling well. He slept most of the entire time, wouldn't eat, and vomited once in the evening. I'm always worried about my son because he's my little buddy, who I love more than the world. We were planning on taking him to get medical care if he didn't show signs of improvement by morning. 

Around 1 or 2am on the 2nd, I was sitting in the living room playing one of my favorite video games, just trying to relax. But I couldn't get my son off my mind, so I simply prayed, "Apollon, God of healing, remember my past sacrifices and please hear my prayer, heal my son of his illnesses." Literally, the very second after I finished that prayer, I heard my son exclaim happily all the way down the hall in the bedroom. Then he opened the door, went into the kitchen, and started eating and drinking again. He was fully recovered by morning.

I mostly don't believe in coincidences, especially if they happen at the exact moment you'd expect, or perfectly in sync. Apollon has always been a God very close to me and my family. But I also find that there is never a time in my life when I don't feel close to all of the Gods. No matter what's happening, I know they're always good to their people.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, November 19, 2018

How To Build Private Prayer Space For All Purposes

Polytheists and Pagans like being private people. The number of solitary practitioners is one of the highest denominations, if you will, in the community. In some Pagan Paths, like Wicca, it's even drawn controversy as to whether or not it's even legitimate for a Wiccan to be without a Coven. So those of us who enjoy our alone time with the Gods and our spirituality are massive. When I built my own entirely private altar just a few days ago, I wasn't even in the market for it when I stumbled upon the marvelous items for it at a local Goodwill store, but I'm always on the lookout for new stuff I can use and design for my pursuits in life. Originally, I went to Goodwill that day because I always try to buy a little something I like each time I get paid, so I was looking for nice decorations for my home.

As you can see from the first picture on the right, I assembled a private altar very nicely, facing the direction of the rising Sun each morning. Of course, the lower wooden stand is the altar for prayer, sacrifice and even festival celebrations for a particular God when necessary. In the center is the incense burner which is the common offering at this altar, on the left a relief of Eos (Goddess of the dawn) and on the right Hemera (Goddess of the day), over shadowed by a golden, metal reef of flowers. At the very top is a central wall niche to finish. The total price for all of it was about $16. That's the reason I always tell Pagans to search for religious items at thrift stores and antique shops. You can find absolutely wonderful things that cost virtually nothing.

Now the altar is for universal purpose. In other words, prayers, worship and rituals regarding any God(s), Spirit(s) or Hero(es) I want at any given time. But there may also be times to focus on one particular Divinity, such as for a festival or personal need, and that's what the wall niche at the top is for. As you can see from the picture on the left, if time comes for this direct focus, I just place a statue, picture or symbol of the God, Spirit or Hero on there. For example, Hephaistos in this picture, and for the purpose of, let's say, celebrating His festival on October 30th called Khalkeia. In this instance, my private prayer space can transform into a temporary altar or small temple or sanctuary of Hephaistos. When the celebrations are finished, I simply take the statue back to the original place I took it from, and the altar then returns to universal purpose. One of the best things about this space besides how cheap it was to make it, is that it does not take up much room at all. It's barely one yard across, and about two yards high.  The lower wooden section also has a lower shelf that can be used for things like prayer and ritual books, solid offerings, libation bowls, and/or to house relics of Gods or Heroes. With this small and very affordable establishment I have built in my own private living space, I can do all things religious that I need to in terms of worship and ritual. 

Don't be afraid to go out and try this for yourself if you need something like I have built, or perhaps more importantly, if you think something like this would be the most practical for you at this time. There is always more than one way to be Pagan.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, May 18, 2018

When The Gods Hear You, You Know It

Moving is highly stressful, not to mention all of the financial dealings you have to go through. But, here I am again, about to move an hour and a half away from my present home to the region of Rockton and South Beloit, Illinois. Since my wife and I have been together, we have moved every year since 2009 up until 2015, when we settled in Elizabeth, IL up to this present date. Why are we moving again, you might ask? Well, human migration really hasn't changed that much since the old days. We used to move where the herds went. Now, we move where the jobs are, such as in my case. I have really enjoyed Elizabeth and the surrounding region, but when it comes down to it, there are just no prosperous jobs here. So my wife landed one out to the east of the state. There's also far more opportunity in our new area for the temple that I run. The hardest part, however, is that you know that moving a house is Tartaros on Earth; no one in the right mind wants to, or enjoys it. The last time, I moved the entire apartment alone, with nothing more than a hand truck and a moving van. Perhaps after I die, I will be the Hero of Movers, or the Patron of Toilsome Endeavors, or something like that.

Some time ago, I was lounging in my car at the park in Stockton, Illinois, thinking about all my stresses, worries and fears. Sometimes, life becomes too hard to deal with on our own, and that's when the Gods are there. My wife told me in the past, "Sometimes, you have to just give it up to the Gods." I tilted my head back, closed my eyes, and began to pray to Athene for strength, and Hermes for success in the move. When the Gods hear you, you know it, because a smothering blanket of peace and love came over me, complete calmness and delight. My troubles troubled me no more. I knew things were going to be ok one way or another, there was nothing to fear. There is nothing that can hold rule over me so long as the Gods are by my side.

The peace simply came in knowing that they heard me. Absolutely nothing had happened yet in regards to the move. We had not even found a new home. But I knew the Gods heard my words, a simple common man, and that alone was enough. Their power and presence is beyond amazing. There are no words which a human mouth or hand can use to describe it. The best I can say is that, when you're in the presence of the Gods, goodness is all that exists there.

In the Goodness of the Gods.
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Prayer Works ~ A Pagan Perspective

Some people, even religious ones, think that prayer doesn't work, that it changes nothing about you or the world. That at best, it's just for personal reflection and nothing more. I can say from experience that this is utterly untrue. Prayer may not always give us the results we want if the Gods wish a different course, or if something is just not meant to be now or ever, but it's not true to say that prayer has no benefits.

I actually became Hellenic officially because of a prayer that the Gods answered right in front of me within a few seconds of the petition. So for someone, even a high religious leader, to stand there and tell me prayer doesn't work, makes me yawn and slowly blink at best.

Let's begin this discussion about prayer on a personal level, then we will move to the outside world. As someone who has suffered from real and severe mental issues like depression and anxiety, I can say prayer has been better than medication and therapy. I can wake up in the morning feeling awful, but when I am in, and complete, my daily rites and I put my necklace around my neck and say, "I go forth in the Gods today," my physical life completely changes 100%. I am happy and at peace through the Gods. I feel fulfilled and purposeful. My doctors have even told me to institute prayer time as a treatment since it works for me. Literally, it solves my personal problems. When you are in the presence of the Gods, all things evil and harmful flee. You don't experience them anymore because they simply don't exist in Their presence.

Now, let's talk about prayer in terms of the outside world. I too have seen prayer change things in these regards before. My family was recently involved in an ugly lawsuit with a former employer. We were not in the wrong in the matter, but they compiled loads of claims and "witnesses" against us. We thought for sure that we were going to lose and owe them about $3,000. I cannot tell you how many times I prayed to Athene for victory in the matter, the Goddess of Law and justice. Not only did we win completely as our foe exhausted all of their appeals, but they ended up having to pay us over $1,000 at ruling. That same week, after more prayer to the Gods for successful employment, my wife got the job she had been wanting for a while. Before our supplication to the Gods, all was in fearful question. Our very livelihoods were in doubt. But once the Gods heard our prayers, and saw that we were the ones on the side of justice, victory was ours 100%.

Don't tell me prayer doesn't work. It can make the worst things go away, and the most dismal of fortunes take a turn for the best.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Monday, October 9, 2017

Unlocking Hidden Power & Uplift In Prayers

I've heard Pagans in the past make the comment that any given prayer alone just doesn't do it for them, that there has to be more to their religious life. It's certainly true that there's far more to religion and spirituality than simply praying. Even the Christian church who believes everything is a sin has things like communion, meditations, incense practice, etc. Pagans have a lot, perhaps more, centered around their practices as well. Hellenists, for example, do far more than just pray, but I think some people underestimate the great importance of prayer due to the fact that they have failed to unlock its power in some cases.

For me, it's not merely words, whereas so many think otherwise, and I believe this is where the problem lies in the fact that they can't see prayer as an actively strong engagement of their own spirituality and life. When you pray, think about and meditate on every word. For instance, take this prayer to Artemis:

O' blessed Artemis,
Goddess of Light,
Maiden showering arrows,
Lady of the Hunt,
Mistress of Animals,
Roamer in the night.

Did you unlock any of that as you read it? If not, that's one reason you may not feel complete in prayer. When you say, "Goddess of Light," see Her light descending around you and contemplate on all that Her light retains. When you say, "Maiden showering arrows," feel the wind from Her bow a thousand times. When you say, "Lady of the Hunt," imagine yourself on the prowl after the prize game. Now, more than just envisioning and feeling those things, when you recite them, think about all they mean, especially to your own personal life. Do you see the moonlight at night, the forests and trees, the animal life, or just the beautiful parts of nature that Artemis rules every day of your life? For me, my home is surrounded by vast hills, forests and wildlife, and therefore there's a lot of connect and the ability to feel Her presence on a daily basis.

The basic understanding of prayer here is very simple. Once you understand the in-depth meaning of the words you speak, and the vast universe they encompass, you will no longer feel that prayer is plain or boring.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Can Prayer Be An Offering?

Once when I was doing my weekly rite of Athene, I had to prepare and execute a little more quickly than usual because of some other pressing obligations later that day, and in so doing, I did not have anything to present to Hephaistos, Nike, or the Spirits and Heroes of the day who are associated with Athene. But then I remembered the belief that some Hellenes hold, which is that the Gods love it when we recognize them and their greatness, and since the prayers I used did just that, I thought it would be sufficient. I didn't think about the question until later in the day, but it inevitably surfaced: can prayer be an offering? This could be an important question for people who find themselves in a daily rite or ritual without anything to give for one reason or another, but still need or desire to make that connection with the Gods, Spirits or Heroes.

The answer is absolutely, a prayer can most certainly be an offering, especially if you wrote it entirely yourself for that specific Divinity or Divinities. If the Gods take delight in our recognition, then all things given in those respects are gifts that show our love and devotion. This is what an offering is in its entirety. And the Gods never forget. Athene remembers what happened 5 minutes ago just like She remembers what happened 5,000 years ago. She knows how I prayed last week, and how the Greeks prayed on the shores of Marathon. I believe the Gods remember our devotions in whatever form they take.

A prayer that is written by you can also be a great offering to the Gods in the sense that it aids in rebuilding the Hellenic religion. Anything we build or create in honor of the Gods, Spirits or Heroes is an act of devotion, reverence, gift, offering, etc. So when you create your own prayer and write it down in secure records, like a book or a protected journal, you have brought into existence another delightful piece of Hellenic religion and the recognition of the ancient Gods in our world. It's a wonderful offering or gift, especially if those writings later go on to be largely used in Hellenism, or discovered by historians and archaeologists later on as they try to piece together a past understanding of contemporary ancient Greek religion.

In my life as a Hellenic writer, I have myself composed numerous new prayers, around 250 to be close to exact, and those writings are published in book form so they can be distributed to Hellenists and Pagans. Of course, it wasn't an easy process. All the prayers of mine that people now see have been in the making since 2009. It's taken me 7 years to assemble them all. In my advice, if you want to give a continuous, custom offering to the Gods, then custom prayers are a good way to do that, if it's all you can present for any given reason. Furthermore, publish them if you can and wish. Create your own website or blog and post them as your contributions to the worship of the old Gods. Pray often.

In the Goodness of Olympos,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Why Greek Heroes Are Not Exclusive To Ancient Greek Local Communities

Some Hellenists believe that praying to ancient Greek Heroes, or worshiping them, outside of their local communities in ancient Greece, is not a valid or authentic practice for a Hellene who lives outside of Greece, that these Heroes are only reserved for the precise places where they were prayed to or worshiped. While it's most certainly true that we can have local Heroes of our time in our own land, and such Heroes do exist, it is an extreme fallacy, and simply illogical, to say that ancient Greek Heroes cannot be universal or invoked outside of their homeland, or that such a practice outside of Greece would somehow be "unhellenic."

The first reason why this is faulty logic is because we Hellenes outside of Greece follow the calendar of Attica, which is the calendar of a specific region of Greece, and we incorporate practices from this calendar in many different places in the world. So to say that local Greek Heroes cannot be legitimately honored, prayed to, or worshiped outside of their local areas, and then follow a local calendar of ancient Greece, is a walking contradiction. Why would it be acceptable and accurate to celebrate the observances and practices of Attica outside of Attica, but not to also honor and pray to the Heroes of Attica, like Theseus? 

Literally speaking, our entire religion comes from a different part of the world. If you live in the United States, no part of the Hellenic religion originated here, but we don't tell Americans they can't be Hellenists. Clearly, there is a system of universalism present within the religion. We're not talking about religion from a place like Egypt where it was explicitly tied to the geography in every way. For example, there is only one Nile, but there are rivers and seas all over the world. Why should that only mean those found in Greece?

We also have to consider that some of the Heroes did not stay in one area during their time of heroism. For example, Theseus was born in Troezen, and traveled to Athens, along the way demonstrating His heroism to the Greek people, and after His death, became a protector of the persecuted and oppressed. So which area would Theseus be more appropriately honored, Troezen or Athens? Or can we say that He is multi-regional? I would say most certainly. Theseus is not just the Hero of the Athenians, because the persecuted and oppressed exist all over the globe, and Athens was not the only place where He liberated such people. As long as one gives Him proper Greek respects, I don't see the issue, because as Plutarch said in his writings, Plutarch's Lives, Theseus always helped those who came to Him for help, He did not turn away those in need. Granted, I don't agree with Plutarch on everything, but this seems to be very much in line with the character of Theseus.

Certain Gods also held different levels of importance in ancient Greek areas. For example, Athene was of great importance in Athens, while Apollon was of dominant importance in Delphi, so which Deity should receive the most honor from us Hellenes? Some of the Greek Gods had origins outside of Greece itself, so which region is accurate and which region in Greece is more accurate than the other? Or shall we say that both of the Gods are of great importance to the lives of Hellenes and the religion of Hellenism? 

This is why locality really has no basis in the argument against the honoring of Greek Heroes, because we honor many Beings and things which were local, while we practice in other parts of the world. The simple fact of the matter is that the Heroes traveled about, doing heroic things. Spheres of influence are not exclusive, and sometimes cannot possibly be to, one area, whether we're talking about Heroes or Gods themselves. For example, Apollon is God of the Sun, Zeus is God of the Sky, and Poseidon is God of the Sea, and these things shine and cover over the entire world, not just in Greece. Essentially, I argue that Hellenism can be a universal system in that the Gods, Spirits, Heroes and practices themselves can extend outside of the Greek regions as long as they retain their Greek identity.

To finish by speaking on a UPG level, for what it's worth in the larger Hellenic community, I have had great experience praying to Greek Heroes, such as Theseus and Bellerophon. I can feel them with me when I ask for their presence, because I believe they hear all Hellenes. The Heroes now exist in a divine or spiritual state, which means they are beyond physical boundaries. 

In the Goodness of the Dodekatheon,

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Are We to Pray for People?

In Hellenic religion, are we to recite prayers in the favor of other human beings, places and causes? I would certainly say there's a basis for it, as there are ancient Hellenic prayers that encompass such a concept. Even Pagan leaders and influential Pagan people these days are saying that we should pray for people and for the world. But in what context? In what way should we pray for others? Obviously, the concept brings to mind mainstream religious practices, because we are so used to seeing the mainstream take part in all the aspects of religion. For this reason, those of the old religions may shy away from it, and it's certainly not something that is required. However, if one wanted to pray for another person, place, situation, etc, I don't see a problem with it as long as it's done within the morals and principles of our religion, or the religion that you yourself follow.

For example, it's perfectly fine to pray for someone's well-being, to pray that they be strong enough to overcome a disease or some other great obstacle, or that they be well and succeed in life in general. On a fairly regular basis, I pray for my family in general (not just my wife and son, but my extended family), and I pray for the safety and wellness of the world in general. These practices are not immoral in terms of old religion and modern Paganism, and it's certainly not unethical if the individual in question actually asks you to pray for them.

Now, with that being said, praying for others can become an offense to the old religion if done in inappropriate ways. Praying for someone to convert religions, to accept your way of thinking or a mindset outside their own, or for them to encounter any kind of harm, would be severely unethical and, in my view, a high offense. It's no one's place to decide what religion they follow other than them. It's no one's place to dictate their mind and beliefs other than them. And, of course, doing harm toward others just for meanness is not ethical. I would even go so far as to say that such prayers as these are an attack on a person's mind, body and soul.

In conclusion, as long as we keep it within the moral standards of our religion, I certainly don't see a problem with praying for goodness and wellness.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

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